The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists.
August 22, 2008 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Ken Knabb's Bureau of Public Secrets, a huge online archive of copyright-free Situationist and other radical texts, turns 10 years old today. (pre vio usly)
posted by nasreddin (15 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Amazing website, and one of the most durable treasure houses on the Net. The Rexroth material alone is invaluable (and a lot more interesting to me personally than the Situationists). Rexroth had a very vibrant and learned salon going on for decades in his San Francisco apartment that provided a crucial gathering place for the incipient Beat Generation [note: self-link]. I believe that Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was deeply influenced by Rexroth's scathing blast "Thou Shalt Not Kill," which is available on Knabb's site. Thank you, Mr. Knabb!
posted by digaman at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

I just discovered the Bureau the other day. I came for the Rexroth (the above mentioned "Thou Shalt Not Kill," as it happened) and I stayed for The Society of Spectacle and The Situationist International Anthology.
posted by Iridic at 9:12 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some years ago the Rexroth material led me to the Bureau as well; it maintains a permanent place in my bookmarks. Nice post.
posted by faineant at 9:41 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Glad to see so many Rexroth enthusiasts on the blue. For what it's worth, I've long felt Rexroth is perhaps the greatest American poet of the 20th Century, and one of its greatest essayists and translators, and I do not say such things without a great deal of consideration of all the usual suspects. His long poems in particular, a few of which are excerpted at the bops site featured in this FPP, remain as vibrant for me now as when I first read them some 20 years ago.

That he was an ardent pacifist and maintained an ongoing interest in radical leftist politics until the end of his life is secondary to his visionary poetics, but only secondary in the same way Whitman's democratic pluralism is secondary to Whitman: just as with Shelley or Whitman or Novalis, for Rexroth nature and politics and poetry were all of a piece--each one side of a larger metaphysical arc. Irascible polymath and autodidact, both grandfather figure to and astute critic of the Beats, champion of avant garde poetics long before most American readers were aware of them, student of ecology and Buddhism long before either were fashionable or understood, Rexroth was one of American literature's great cantankerous literary shaman: a voice of unabashed individualism in an age of literary conformity, and one that deserves to be far better known.
posted by ornate insect at 10:06 AM on August 22, 2008 [6 favorites]

"When We With Sappho" has been my favorite Rexroth poem for a long time.
posted by nasreddin at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Brilliant post, ornate insect!
posted by digaman at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great site, thanks ornate insect.
posted by jack_mo at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Add me to the list of folks who first discovered the BoPS material via a google search for Rexroth, after randomly finding 100 Poems from the Chinese and most of the published essay collections in the library at Wayne (Nebraska, not Indiana) State College. WSC is for the most part not exactly a hotbed of intellectual liberation or radical awareness, but I'm profoundly grateful to whatever unknown academic/librarian was responsible for that one.
posted by brennen at 2:47 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

oh, situationists. how I love you so. how I routinely misuse and abuse your writings because I have still not yet sat down with you to really, really get to know you. why have I not done this? why am I so cruel to you? I do not know. I can only say that I am sorry, so sorry, and I promise it will never, ever happen again.

yours sincerely,

(ps. also has a very good SI archive. and links. not to mention all the other radical and lefty things that they do. they're who led me to the bops, all those many, many years ago.)
posted by object-a at 4:37 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Congrats, Ken!

...I feel like I should send him some scratch for how much use I've gotten out of his archive...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:17 PM on August 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

I am favoriting this post, and every comment in this post, so I will remember this post and visit it again and often.
posted by steef at 5:22 PM on August 22, 2008

Glad to see so many Rexroth enthusiasts on the blue. For what it's worth, I've long felt Rexroth is perhaps the greatest American poet of the 20th Century

As long as you completely ignore Kenneth Patchen, I'm with you.

But yeh, Rexroths by the dozens this way.

Well done to the Bureau of Public Secrets. Nice that Ken drops by here from time to time, too.

Slightly related, in case anybody has been living under a rock all their lives, I present ubuweb.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 AM on August 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ubuweb rocks.
posted by digaman at 1:02 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Rexroth, I just found a mind-blowing recording of the poet himself reading "Thou Shalt Not Kill" with jazz backing, recorded at the Cellar in San Francisco. It was available on eMusic, just a single download for 20 minutes of Rexroth at maximum intensity.
posted by digaman at 11:41 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

quite a bit of that going around. i've got some smithsonian recordings of Patchen reading his poems over jazz, plus Lawrence Ferlinghetti doing similar on A Coney Island of the Mind.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

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